Blogger Kaitlin Frick

STEAM Programming: Coding with Character(s)

Some of you may remember my first post for ALSC, published just a few months ago, entitled An Old-School Spin on STEAM Programming. It’s focus was an at-that-time recent program a colleague and I had run at 53rd Street, where school-age children were presented with a series of Choose Your Own Adventure-style challenges. Each week followed a different theme (pirates, space, etc.), and participants were asked to complete a series of STEAM projects, from pattern matching to coding, to aid them in their quests. A dear friend of mine (who is one of the best librarians I know) took this concept to the next level by creating a Super Mario-themed adventure that far surpassed the original programming. (No, I’m not putting myself down. Her programming is just so beyond what I could have created, it’s unbelievable.) To get an idea of how this program came together, I sent some interview…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Families Coding Together

In October 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the National Center for Families Learning Annual Conference, which was held that year in Tucson, Arizona. Although libraries had a presence at the Conference (indeed—I met ALSC’s Angela Hubbard there and she encouraged me to write for the blog, hence this post!), other organizations that focus on family learning were present as well. I found the non-library sessions to be extremely interesting, and they helped me think outside of the box.   One such session was with PBS Kids and originated from WQED, the PBS station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. WQED partners with school districts in their service area to bring PBS Kids’ Family Creative Learning programs to locals. The session I attended discussed a family coding program that used Scratch Jr.’s PBS Kids version (free to download) aimed at children ages 5-8 and their siblings/caregivers. You can read about PBS Kids…

ALA Annual 2018

The Inclusive Makerspace #WeNeedDiverseMakerspaces #alaac18

It’s been another jam-packed, amazing day at the 2018 ALA Conference! This afternoon I attended The Inclusive Makerspace #WeNeedDiverseBooks session led by Gina Seymour, a School Library Media Specialist. She offered some great advice on making your Makerspace or hands on learning activities accessible for a wide variety of youth, including those with disabilities or language barriers. Gina provided many simple tips with big impact, like providing triangular anti-roll crayons, instruction sheets with a visual cue for each step, and printing instructions in both English and Spanish. Other suggestions included labeling all craft materials used in making with not only a word but an image of what is inside. She emphasized how making can promote the 3 E’s: Equity, Education and Excitement. This session made me think of how my library could reassess our own maker-based activities and  programming so that everyone can be successful and feel welcome. Thinking of…

ALA Annual 2018

STEM for Babies and Toddlers #ALAAC18

What is STEM… Some may think, STEM?!  for toddlers?!  for babies?!  Of course, we think of teaching and using STEM for kids in high school and even in first grade.  But, is it ever too early to start STEM?  I always knew STEM as “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math,” but two librarians from the Brooklyn Public Library, a librarian from the Everett Public Library, and Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and Expert Saroj Ghoting gave a more detailed definition.  The science portion is really a way of thinking, technology is a way of doing, engineering is a way of creating, and math is a way of measuring. Within this new context, it was easy to see that toddlers and babies naturally engage in STEM every day.  When they throw their full cereal bowl on the floor, they are practicing cause and effect and learning about gravity.  When playing with blocks, a…

ALA Annual 2018

STEAM-y Library Programs at #alac18

You can’t be a children’s librarian today without being inundated with STEAM, STEM, STREAM requests from your admins, patrons, councilmembers, educators, and children themselves. It has been a buzzword for the last 10 years or so… but what does that actually mean at your library? I really liked this program because it talked about the theory and why of STEM and how we were already doing a lot of it and just additional framework for how we can think and talk about STEM as we develop programs and empower parents. As one presenter put it– we want parents to feel like they have achieved things and accomplished things! And then beyond the framework– there was a chance to interact and play with materials and PRACTICE discussing STEM questioning with ourselves and colleagues in the room. I mention that because as one of the presenters mentioned– this takes practice, there is no…

Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Libraries Rock: Between Summer READing ‘n’ Hard Places

Summer READing is upon us! So, you’ve got everything lined up for summer.  Performers – check!  Special storytimes – check!  Crafts – check!  Libraries rock! But what about the unexpected?  It’s all happened to us – a performer cancels at the last minute, or a crucial staff member calls in sick.  Will you be ready? Here’s some quick and easy hands-on activities that can be turned into full-blown, hour long programs!  All on the turn of a dime and just as affordable!  Rock – I mean – read on! Libraries Rock – Literally! Zen or Sharpie Stones What could be easier?  Take some rocks, get some Sharpies and create simply patterns all over them! These can be as simple or as complex as you want: Mini Rock Garden Easy mode: Get a shoe box lid, add some sand and rocks and create patterns with a plastic fork. Source: Pinterest Tip: Put…

Blogger Kathia Ibacache

STEM: Leadership Tips When you Get Coding Bots Out

STEM can overwhelm some librarians. However, do not despair. There are some organizational ideas and leadership tips worth trying if you are willing to give coding bots a try. After a year of an introductory STEM programs at the Simi Valley Public Library, it was time to spice this program up with a new element. Why not buy bots to teach kids computational thinking through basic coding? The idea became a proposal and with minor changes the proposal became a reality. We purchased two of the following four bots: Wonder Dash, Coji, Ozobot, and the Robot Mouse, to implement a year’s worth of monthly STEM programs focusing on coding. Wonder Dash and Azobot: are fine bots for kids 6+. Here children will be practicing coding at a basic and intermediate level if they dare to explore all the potential of these bots. Coji and the Robot Mouse: are convenient bots…

Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Spring…break???

In my part of the country, most students had spring break this week or last.  I am always amused by the fact that when our local children have a break from school, we children’s librarians do not have a break from work.  At my branch, at least, there may be less children in the building than the afterschool crowd, but the demands are higher.  The kids have l-o-n-g days that are more unstructured than normal, and they are looking for something to do.  And, many times, their parents are looking for something for them to do.  Desperately.   Over time, my colleagues and I have taken several approaches to engaging children over spring break.  The simplest is having a passive program like a make-and-take craft.  Paper chicks are easy to put out on a table (I loved DLTK’s Crafts for Kids as a source for easy, printable crafts).  It might…